A Small Guide to Japanese Slang Words

Hey all!! This is a list of some popular Japanese slang words which can be found in some of my translations.


Azassu (あざっす), or sometimes just Azs, is a short-form for “Thank you”. Yamazaki (Boke), from the owarai comedic team The Untouchables, abbreviated the term 「Arigatou Gozaimasu」 to 「Azassu」, which quickly became popular. The short-form used to sound similar to 「Arigatou Gozaimasu」, but nowadays, it has completely shortened to 「Azassu」.

Karano (からの) is a term often heard in TV variety shows. Most probably coined by popular comedian Yamazaki, the phrase is used when someone on a show is telling a juicy story but not revealing enough details. It’s sort of like asking “Hey, that’s surely not all that you know! What happens next? And then? And then?” I loosely translate the phrase into “and then” sometimes, but mostly, I leave it untouched as roomaji “karano”.

Masai (マサイ), often written in katakan, is a phrase coined by Hamasaki Ayumi’s dancer ZIN. It has the general meaning of “making a mistake”, and is often used as a verb eg “I Masai-ed”.

Ndaba (んだば) is Hokkaido dialect for daba (だば). Daba is slang for ja (じゃ) which means alright/see you/ok, depending on the context. ayu often uses it as plain “ndaba” or “ndabayon”, the latter of which is just a cuter version of the word.

 Zabutons (座布団) are those flat square cushions which the Japanese put under them when they kneel on the floor. There is a variety show on Japan TV called “shouten”, and one of the corners they have is a wit competition. The competitors will be asked a variety of questions, and whenever the host deems that someone has made a witty/smart comment, he will be awarded one zabuton to sit on (or two if the comment is extra funny). When the competitor gives an unsatisfactory answer, one zabuton will be removed instead. The game continues until a competitor accumulates 10 zabutons under him, after which he’ll receive the grand prize. Following the show, the phrase “1 zabuton” has become a slang when someone wants to compliment another for a witty comment. The number of zabutons can vary, depending on how witty the listener finds the comment to be.
Check out zabuton competition: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NjxYhzVJU4M)


More coming soon!